Basil is a half-hardy annual; they are extremely variable, even within its own species. Basil is propagated from seed. Place in a very warm place, either in a greenhouse or in a sheltered warm place outdoors. Put 2-3 seeds per pot. Plant out when hardened, plant 8inches apart in well drained moist soil.
Basil is happiest in sheltered sunny positions; keep well watered, this herb can grow from 8 - 24 inches tall. Basils are wonderfully ornamental, with their red, purple and green tones.
Once Basil has established outdoors in such a position it fares well.
However, it is not hardy, and will need to be replaced every year. Do not plant it out until well after the spring frosts, and once the weather has truly warmed up.
A typical offering of Basil from the local supermarket. Unless you have the right growing conditions for Basil, then it is probably better to buy potted plants such as in the image, and grow them in a light place in the kitchen.
The leaves can be picked as and when required, and the lovely smell of Basil will add to the ambience of your kitchen - maybe even negating some of the less favoured smells!
Basic can easily be grown indoors in this manner, as long as it gets plenty of light, is well watered, and fed regularly with a dilute liquid feed.
Basil has many medicinal uses; it has wonderful soothing properties, try using it on bites and stings it will help to relieve the itching. Basil is also used as an antidepressant and antiseptic. The juice of Basil can be applied to fungal infections, and even used as a mouth wash. It can be used internally to give relief from colds, migraine, and stomach cramps. The oil from this aromatic herb is used in aromatherapy; it is also used in perfume.
Basil first came to Britain in the 16 century, but was only appreciated for its scent. In Roman times they thought it represented misfortune and in India it was used it as a funeral herb. Today it is one of the most common herbs grown.
Always try and use Basil as when it is fresh, for when dried it is inclined to loose its flavour. As Basil is so fragrant, make oils salad dressings. Try Italian Pesto sauce for a wonderful topping for pasta. Use as many different species as you can for their pungencies and colour. Basil has a very strong flavour that increases with cooking. Basil works well with tomatoes, use in leaf salads, it also gives a superb flavour when used in. soups and stews.
There are several varieties of Sweet basil available - with varying tastes and foliage colours. These include Lemon Basil, Dark Opal Basil - a purple leaved form, Camphor Basil and Cinnamon Basil. The green and normal purple varieties are the mainstay of the cooking pot or salad bowl.
The seeds of basil also have uses - but normally used in drinks in Asia. They are also used extensively in Indian Herbal Medicine.
Basil can be grown from seed - but it needs continuous warmth in a propagator, and are not always reliable germinators. Far easier to root a few stems by suspending them in a glass of water. they will root within a couple of weeks, and can be potted up, grown indoors or planted out for the summer.
the growing on of the young seedlings is also prone to difficulties. Wilting seedlings caused by damping off fungus is not easy to control. Pre-drench the seeds and emerging seedlings with a general fungicide for damping off - Pythium and Fusarium.
Various leave spots and grey mould of the foliage is also a problem. Make sure not to get water splashes on the foliage. Outside not so much of a problem, for any rainwater soon dries off the foliage once rain has stopped.
Basil has been proven to have fatal effects upon mosquitoes in recent studies. But how it can be administered is not known by us at this moment!
Research has also shown that the essential oil of Basil can control a wide range of fungal disease on plants.
There is no conclusive research as far as we are aware of any toxicity to humans from the use of the essential oils of Basil - Osimum basilicum. This is NOT to say that there are NO possible problems. Tests have been carried out on rats - as is the norm for testing for toxicity - with no proven results of any harm.
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